A wise friend once told me, “Don’t plant anything until the last full moon of May.” I’m always too eager to wait that long. However, as Michiganders, we know that our plants are in danger of frost [practically] year-round. I’ve created this guide to help you (AND ME) know when to plant various species and how to best prepare your garden for another spring.
Before we dive into the actual planting, it’s important to prepare your garden area. Winter is harsh and gardens need to be spruced up. Rake up the area to stir up some fresh dirt. Then add compost, mulch, or fresh soil if you wish and till it in.
Start Inside, Transport Outside
It’s hard to keep track of when to start various plants inside and when to move them outside. In mid-March, start broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower inside. Move these items outside as early as May 1st.
Mid-April is the perfect time to start items like okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds inside. At the end of May, transition these plants outside.
On the first of May, pumpkins, muskmelon, and winter squash can be planted inside. Transport these plants outside at the end of May.
Sun vs. Shade
First, it is important to define some terms. Full sun means the plant receives six hours of direct sunlight per day. Partial shade means that the plants receive three to six hours of direct sun per day, but are shaded the rest of the time. Full shade indicates that the plant receives no direct sunlight at all.
Herbs that do particularly well in partial to full shade are mint, chives, parsley, cilantro, thyme, and garlic. Vegetables that do well in partial shade are asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, radishes, and spinach. Items that require full sun include tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, and squash.
Prior to doing my research for this article, I thought watering was rather simple. Leave it to the internet to complicate things. When watering vegetables in the shade, note that you may have to water these less often than those in full sunlight. The moisture in the shade evaporates slower than in full-sun. However, be mindful if the garden is near trees. These plants usually need to be watered more often, as the trees take up some of that moisture from the ground.
When watering plants that live in full-sun, a good rule is to water about one inch per week. Monitor the weekly rainfall and add in manual watering, if necessary. However, it is important to monitor temperature as well. For every 10 degrees above 60 degrees, add ½ inch of water to that regime.
Make sure to weed your garden and spend time talking to your plants! Those little guys are good companions and appreciate the time and love. If you don’t already know, there’s a reason people say, “gardening is therapeutic.”
What tips do you follow when preparing your garden? What is your favorite plant to grow?